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Can Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Help Fight Disease? | Above the Noise

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In the last couple of years, the mosquito species Aedes aegypti has garnered perhaps the most attention, at least in parts of the U.S. where it resides. It’s the one that can transmit a generous selection of very nasty diseases including Zika, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya. In an effort to control these mosquito populations and reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, some scientists at the British company OXITEC have turned to genetic engineering. Host Myles Bess dives into the science and policy surrounding the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News? | Above the Noise

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Ever have an argument with someone, and no matter how many facts you provide, you just can’t get that person to see it your way? One big reason for this is cognitive bias, which is a limitation in our thinking that can cause flaws in our judgement. Confirmation bias is a specific type of cognitive bias that motivates us to seek out information we already believe and ignore or minimize facts that threaten what we believe. Studies show that when people are presented with facts that contradict what they believe, the parts of the brain that control reason and rationality go inactive. But, the parts of the brain that process emotion light up like the Fourth of July. In this video, host Myles Bess dives into the research and offers some tips to combat confirmation bias. This resource is part of the News and Media Literacy Collection.

Why Can't Teens Wake Up Early For School? | Above the Noise

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The research shows that teenagers are wired to sleep late, yet most schools in the US start before 8:30 am. Sleep is largely dictated by your genes. Inside all mammals is a tiny region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or the SCN. The SCN is referred to as the body’s master clock, telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. It actually shifts as you age -- and the biggest change happens to teenagers, making it tough for them to wake up for those early classes. But schools aren’t heeding the research. Most school schedules revolve around the typical 9 to 5 workday of adults, and so there is a general worry that pushing back when school starts will be too disruptive. What’s the solution? Watch the latest Above the Noise episode to find out.

Is Marijuana Actually Medicinal? | Above the Noise

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With the results of the 2016 election, use of medical marijuana is now approved in 28 states, plus Washington, D.C., but the plant itself is not approved as medicine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It still remains federally illegal. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug-- which is a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs, drugs that do not show any medical benefit. This classification makes it difficult for researchers to study, because drugs in this category are very tightly regulated. Host Myles Bess explores the research surrounding medical marijuana and discusses some of the challenges researchers face in studying it.

Adam Savage of Myth Busters on Why Science Matters | Above the Noise

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In a special episode of Above the Noise, host Shirin Ghaffary asked the host of the popular TV show MythBusters, Adam Savage, about why he participated in the March for Science in San Francisco on April 22. Savage is a passionate advocate for science. He says that much of the current opposition to science in this country comes from the belief that it’s an “elitist, provocative way of looking at the world. When in fact, it’s just an attempt to look at the world clearly.” In addition to supporting scientists, Savage says it’s also crucial to teach media literacy so that young people learn how to separate fact from fiction in the media.

Gerrymandering: Is Geometry Silencing Your Vote? | Above the Noise

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Fair elections are at the heart of American democracy, but many people argue that politicians have been undermining this American ideal through the practice of what is called gerrymandering. Gerrymandering has been described as the process of politicians picking their voters instead of the voters picking their politicians. In order to really understand this concept, you need to know how voting districts work. In this episode of Above the Noise, host Myles Bess breaks down gerrymandering, and how politicians on both sides of the aisle use sophisticated software to rig the voting system in their party’s favor.

Why Can't Anyone Agree on the Crime Rate? | Above the Noise

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The news media is chock-full of contradictory stories about crime in the United States. Are murders on the rise, or at remarkable lows? A skim of the headlines might not give you a clear answer. So why is there room for disagreement about what should be a very basic statistic? The answer isn’t really about the data itself, but how we slice and dice that data. It’s about how we determine trends, what we’re comparing, and sometimes, what answer we want to find. In this Above the Noise video, host Shirin Ghaffary looks into why the crime rate in America can be such a confusing, and often misleading, topic to read and write about.

Top 4 Tips To Spot Bad Science Reporting | Above the Noise

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In an era of sensationalized news and “alternative facts” it can be hard to figure out what to believe or not. And this is especially true when it comes to science and health news. Crazy claims and sketchy science reporting dilutes the public’s understanding of science, which can have some big consequences, especially when it comes to our health and environment. How can we make solid decisions--like how to vote, what to buy or what can make us sick, if our science news is hyped? Host Myles Bess helps you get above the noise by sharing tips on how to spot bad science reporting. This resource is part of the News and Media Literacy Collection

Voices from the March for Science | Above the Noise

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The March For Science attracted participants from all over the world who voiced their support of evidence-based policy and the impact of scientific research on everyday life. Thousands of people of all ages participated in marches for science across the country on April 22. But some scientists feel that marches like these are a mistake and risk politicizing science. In this special report, host Shirin Ghaffary speaks with young participants at the San Francisco march.

Can You Win an Argument with a Conspiracy Theorist? | Above the Noise

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A conspiracy theory is a belief that an organization is working in secret to achieve some sinister goal. These theories are nothing new, but with the internet and the rise of social media, conspiracy theories are getting in front of a lot of eyeballs. Have you ever sat down and tried to argue with someone who believes in a conspiracy theory? Watch the latest Above the Noise video to discover why some people believe in conspiracy theories and whether you can change the mind of someone who believes in one.